Apr 26, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forwardTim Duncan
(21) posts up against Los Angeles Clippers power forwardGlen Davis
(R) in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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The addition of four-time all-star Aldridge makes the Spurs a favorite to win the championship in 2016. The Spurs also resigned
Who in the Western Conference can compete with the Spurs or is capable of beating them?
Next: Honorable Mentions
Mar 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forwardTerrence Jones
(6) reacts after scoring during the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Toyota Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Rockets 102-100. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets– The Houston Rockets finished 56-26, one game in front of the San Antonio Spurs. The Rockets didn’t make the splash that most teams made in the offseason, they stayed steady. Josh Smith left the team for the Los Angeles Clippers and the team drafted Sam Dekker, with their 18th pick. James Harden is getting better and they are hoping for better health next season. The Rockets should have a healthier Patrick Beverley, Dwight Howard, and Dontas Motiejunas.
Memphis Grizzlies– The Memphis Grizzlies like the Rockets, stayed steady. The Grizzlies had the same record as the Spurs last year (55-27). The Grizzlies added Matt Barnes and lost Kosta Koufos in free-agency. They still have the talented front-court in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They have a good point guard in Mike Conley and a lockdown defender in Tony Allen. The problem with the Grizzlies is that they lack three-point shooting and are missing a scoring guard.
Next: 3. Los Angeles Clippers
May 14, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guardChris Paul
(3) talks to Los Angeles Clippers forwardBlake Griffin
(32) in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against Houston Rockets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Clippers already beat the Spurs in a classic seven game series last season. All the Clippers did is basically add talent somehow. They lost Matt Barnes, but they added Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce, Cole Aldrich, and Wesley Johnson. The Clippers all of a sudden have a terrific bench, which is bad news for the rest of the NBA.
They have their talented trio of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan, and they have their two scoring guards in J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford. The only question with the Clippers, is whether their defense will catch up with their offense? If it does the Clippers can win the championship.
Next: 2. Golden State Warriors
Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; The Golden State Warriors celebrate after winning game six of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Warriors won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors kept everyone around, with the exception of David Lee. In the draft, the Warriors took Kevon Looney with the 30th pick, a forward with lottery talent. The Warriors will have a chance to repeat once again as long as they stay healthy. The Warriors have the best shooters in the league in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and a jack-of-all-trades forward in Draymond Green. They also have two talented small forwards in Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala. The problem with the Warriors is whether their bench (Shaun Livingston, Andre Igoudala, Marreese Speights) can keep up with talented benches that teams like the Spurs, Clippers, and Thunder have.
Next: 1. Oklahoma City Thunder
Feb 9, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guardRussell Westbrook
(0) and forwardKevin Durant
(35) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Whenever you have Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on the court at the same time, you will be favored to win most nights. The problem is that the Thunder have been haunted by injuries in postseason the last few years. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka have missed postseason games the past two seasons. Kevin Durant missed 55 games this season and the Thunder missed the playoffs as the New Orleans Pelicans held the tiebreaker on them for the 8th seed.
The Thunder improved their depth when they selected Cameron Payne with their 14th pick. The Thunder also resigned Enes Kanter, who became a dominant offensive center since joining the Thunder. I haven’t even mentioned Anthony Morrow, D.J. Augustin, Mitch McGary, Dion Waiters, and Steven Adams. The Thunder are destined to win a championship, since they haven’t won one yet.